Sport

Season review: So close, yet so far for Wallabys

Tannum's Cameron Fagg and Wallabys' player/coach Ashley Dodd. RRL reserves game between Tannum and Wallabys.
Tannum's Cameron Fagg and Wallabys' player/coach Ashley Dodd. RRL reserves game between Tannum and Wallabys. Paul Braven GLA200517LEAGUE

RUGBY LEAGUE: 2017 was a successful one for Wallabys which saw both the men and women's sides come to within one game of the grand final.

The Wallabys' men won its first four games of the season before going on a three-game losing run which was ended with a gutsy win over Woorabinda in Round 10.

A loss against Yeppoon the following week threatened to derail their season, but Ashley Dodd's men recovered during the back end of the year to secured fourth place.

Entering the finals series while walking the tightrope of elimination, Wallabys qualified for Week 2 of the finals courtesy of a 32-24 win over Valleys.

Another trip to Browne Park to take on Yeppoon extended Wallabys' run after they accounted for the Seagulls 24-14.

The side went into its preliminary final against Norths as underdogs, but were quietly confident given there was room for improvement after their 12-point loss to the Chargers in Round 17.

STRONG SEASON: Wallabys' Ernie Nardoo is lifted by the Calliope defence as Jake Gower watches on.
STRONG SEASON: Wallabys' Ernie Nardoo is lifted by the Calliope defence as Jake Gower watches on. Mike Richards GLA290717RESL

However, a 51-0 loss wasn't an ideal end to the reserve grade season.

Wallabys president Darren Martin spoke to The Observer about how the men and women fared in 2017.

Positives: "The girls bought in so many new players that have really come on this year which will stand them in good stead for next year,” Martin said.

"To get within one game of the grand final I thought was a good result for them.

"For the men, they had a really good year to get one game before the grand final. It wasn't ideal the way they finished against Norths, they were red-hot that night, but overall if you said at the start of the year that we'd finish third I think we'd have taken it.”

Negatives: "There wasn't many really - the girls had a rough start to the year but that was due to weather, a forfeit and a bye - I don't think they played a game out of their first five they were supposed to play,” Martin said.

"With so many new girls it put them on the back foot having only five to six games together before the semi finals.”

Tannum's Fredwon Barsch and Wallabys' Dylan 'Choppy' Lawson. RRL reserves game between Tannum and Wallabys.
Tannum's Fredwon Barsch and Wallabys' Dylan 'Choppy' Lawson. RRL reserves game between Tannum and Wallabys. Paul Braven GLA200517LEAGUE

Turning point: "The men started to run short on numbers midway through the season and had four under-18s step up and three of those (Dylan Lawson, Will Waia and Matt Twigge) played every game right through to the preliminary final,” Martin said.

"I gave them the Presidents' Award for what they did for the club this season.

"In Round 10 (the coach) rang me and they were on their way to Baralaba and only had 13 players and that was with the four U18s playing and they guts it out and won (48-32 against Woorabinda). That was one turning point where they all stuck together.”

That win at Baralaba broke a three-match losing run for Wallabys which turned the tide on their season as they only lost two more games before the finals.

2018 Crystal Ball: "We're in a good spot we just have to keep it going for the next couple of years because we've got those juniors coming through now.”

SEASON STATS

PLAYERS:

Most games: Ashley Dodd, Dean Frewen-Lord, Jason Tuiasau (17)

Most tries: Jamie Powell, Willy Waia (10)

Most goals: Matt Baker (23)

Most points: Matt Baker (58)

TEAM:

Finished: Fourth (P: 16, W: 10, D: 1, L: 5)

Points for: 486

Points against: 368 (+118)

Finals: defeated Valleys 32-24 in elimination semi-final, defeated Yeppoon 24-14 in minor semi-final, lost to Norths Chargers 51-0 in preliminary final.

Topics:  gladstone rugby league reserve grade rockhampton rugby league wallabys rugby league women's rugby league